Russian media figure fled to Lithuania on Israeli passport

Ksenia Sobchak, whose father was a mentor of Putin, fled Russia after being charged with extortion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Ksenia Sobchak, Pavel Grudinin and Sergei Baburin during a meeting with candidates who participated in the last presidential election, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 19, 2018. (photo credit: YURI KADOBNOV/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Ksenia Sobchak, Pavel Grudinin and Sergei Baburin during a meeting with candidates who participated in the last presidential election, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 19, 2018.
(photo credit: YURI KADOBNOV/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Russian media figure Ksenia Sobchak fled Russia to Lithuania on an Israeli passport on Wednesday, Darius Jauniškis, Director of the State Security Department of Lithuania, told the Lithuanian Žiniai Radio on Thursday. Some reports indicated that she fled through Belarus to Lithuania.

Sobchak's home was searched on Wednesday as colleagues of hers were arrested and charged with extortion. The Russian journalist and reality television star reportedly received Israeli citizenship earlier this year, after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Kirill Sukhanov, the commercial director of Ksenia Sobchak and her Telegram news channel Ostorozhno Novosti, was arrested and charged with "extorting 11 million rubles from the head of Rostec, according to RIA Novosti. Authorities claim that Sukhanov threatened to publish "defamatory information" on the channel if he was not paid the money.

Arian Romanovsky, the former editor-in-chief of Tatler Russia, was also arrested on Wednesday and accused of being a part of the extortion against the head of Rostec.

An Israeli passport (credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)An Israeli passport (credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)

Sobchak's father's ties to Vladimir Putin

Sobchak's father, Anatoly Sobchak, was very close with President Vladimir Putin and mentored and supported Putin in the 1990s. Sobchak herself ran for president in 2017 and has expressed criticism of Putin's policies.